Voices

08  Feb  13 b-j-rimel category B.J. Rimel

‘Is my chemotherapy vegan?’ | B.J. Rimel, MD

BJ Rimel_headshot 2“Is my chemotherapy vegan?”

Despite my 12 years of post-graduate training, I was completely floored by this question.  To be honest, my initial response was not what it could have been.

“I have no earthly idea,” I said, in my best doctor voice.  I left the clinic feeling completely incredulous that anyone with a life-threatening cancer would care if their chemo was in any way associated with animal products.  As a new attending, I initially felt righteous that I had not given in to a long discussion about non-evidence based treatments, and instead steered our conversation back to symptom management, dosing schedule and a review of the side effects she was likely to experience.

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31  Jan  13 leigh-seamon category Leigh Seamon

‘It is Unfathomable’ | Leigh Seamon, DO, MPH, FACOG

As oncologists, we routinely discuss proposed treatments, side effects and prognoses with patients and families. But, what happens when you or your family faces the “terrible C?” Part of the healing process for me is sharing my aunt’s story. What follows is the tribute that I recently made at her funeral and by far the most difficult speech that I have ever prepared or given.

Apparently, I knew Elizabeth even prior to my birth—she was Aunt Libby. My sister, Krista, and I have very fond memories of the times we spent with her. There were ice skating and wave pool trips, movies, Easter egg and Christmas cookie decorating, totally cool summer camps at her apartment, many vacations and even a few trips to Disney.

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23  Jan  13 dee-sparacio-blog category Dee Sparacio

New Year’s Aspirations | Dee Sparacio

On January 1, 2006, when I was in treatment for ovarian cancer, I decided that I wouldn’t make resolutions anymore. Why?  Because there were only two things I aspired to do, finish chemo and live!  Since then I have made aspirations for each new year. For me setting these goals is my way of looking forward to the year ahead and how to make my life, however long it might be, better.

In the past, I aspired to complete chemotherapy treatments for my recurrence (2009), raise money for ovarian cancer research at my cancer center (2012), write more frequently on my blog (2011) and travel more (every year).

This year, I have a few new aspirations.

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17  Jan  13 eijean-wu category Eijean Wu

Wound Healing | Eijean Wu, MD, MPP

Maria was one of my luckier patients, someone with a solid support system and safe home. She came into the hospital for a relatively small surgery. Her concerned family drilled me with questions.

“How is her wound?”
“It’s looking pink and clean, just like it should.”

“Is abuelita in pain?”
“I think the morphine is helping. Her face is peaceful.”

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11  Jan  13 erin-stevens category Erin Stevens

A Letter to My Patients: Promises Part 1 | Erin Stevens, MD

This is Part 1 of an excerpt of a speech I gave at the Stony Brook University Hospital’s Gynecologic Oncology Candlelight Ceremony in September 2012.

Sure, I’m only a fellow.  But what that means to me is that I am part of the future of the field of gynecologic oncology.  I was one of the 43 people that was chosen my year to be a gyn onc fellow.  I have hopes and dreams for what my career will be like.  But mostly, what I have now are some promises.

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02  Jan  13 b-j-rimel category B.J. Rimel

New Year’s Resolutions | B.J. Rimel, MD

This New Year, 2013, marks the year of the snake, the Jewish year 5773-5774 and my second year in practice.  Gynecologic oncology is a career that thrills me with the promise of exciting days in the OR.  Performing surgery is one of the most fulfilling things we get to do in our practice and it is often the start of the long relationship we have with our patients. Our cases tend to be complex, even when the pathology is benign, leading to long operative times and missed evening plans.

Time in clinic is also rewarding; seeing patients who are doing well is one of my favorite activities.  However, when patients are struggling it can be exhausting.  Frequently, there is too much to say and too little time.  This leaves me with a sense of unfinished business that tugs at my conscience in the early hours of the morning.  Sleep is already a luxury destroyed by my 10 month old who keeps strictly New York hours in my Los Angeles home.

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24  Dec  12 dee-sparacio-blog category Dee Sparacio

Celebrating the holidays after a cancer diagnosis: A survivor’s guide | Dee Sparacio

Celebrating the holidays after a diagnosis of cancer can be a challenge. We survivors expect to do things just as we had in the past even though we may be recovering from surgery or going through difficult chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

In 2005 I was in chemotherapy treatment but I still wanted to make those five different types of Christmas cookies, to make ornaments, to decorate the tree, to put up the outside lights, to attend all the holiday parties and to host Christmas dinner. I didn’t want to disappoint my family and I certainly didn’t want cancer to ruin our holiday. But I was so tired I wasn’t sure I could do all I had planned. I was stressing out.

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28  Nov  12 dee-sparacio-blog category Dee Sparacio

Every cancer patient has a story to tell | Dee Sparacio

On July 29, 2005, I woke up to hear my gynecologic oncologist say, “You have stage three ovarian cancer.” Hearing those words was difficult and ushered in my life as a cancer survivor.

A few months earlier I had seen my gynecologist about a dull pain I was having on the left side of my abdomen. Since my sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I was vigilant about getting an annual physical and mammogram. After two ultrasounds, an MRI and a visit to the emergency room I was referred to the gynecologic oncologists at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick. I underwent a hysterectomy, oophorectomy and had my oomentum removed during debulking surgery.
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